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New York City public pools reopen for summer, but with staffing problems

NEW YORK – There’s relief from the heat as New York City’s public pools reopen for the season. 

While the water’s ready, staffing problems could still be an issue in some locations. 

As CBS2’s Elijah Westbrook reports, an opening celebration is set for Hamilton Fish pool on the Lower East Side, setting the tone for the outdoor pool season. It’s bittersweet, as many programs that used to be part of the summer season are now canceled due to the ongoing lifeguard shortage. 

The iconic lifeguard highchair that give many of us reassurance while at the beach or pool may be standing empty in your community this summer. A national lifeguard shortage is impacting our area. This means those free summer swim programs you’re used to participating in may not be a thing this summer. 

“That’s sad and scary,” one person said. 

It’s not what Mike Ditota and Chelsea Morse wanted to hear when Westbrook broke the news that their 6-year-old will have to take swimming classes elsewhere this summer. 

“We literally live like right across the street from the pool and we just look forward to it every single year, and the beaches as well,” Ditota said. 

New York City’s Parks Department tweeted out a couple of weeks ago that it “will not be hosting swim programs, including lap swim, senior swim, and learn to swim, at our outdoor pools this summer.” 

“Like, between childcare and making sure people are safe on beaches and pools, is kind of one of the most important jobs,” said Astoria resident Chelsea Morse. 

“That’s interesting because it’s affecting people on such a basic recreational level, and now we’re talking about safety,” said Astoria resident Michael Das. 

Mayor Eric Adams says he will “leave no stone unturned” in the search for lifeguards. Adams says the Parks Department is now doing an analysis to figure out which pools to open this season. 

“Our public pools are considered to be the French Riviera for those communities that have to stay home. So we want to open as many as possible, but it is a challenge,” Adams said. 

Gov. Kathy Hochul says she’s working to boost pay for New York lifeguards. Starting rates will go from about $15 per hour to $20 upstate, and downstate it goes from $18 to $22. 

Elijah Westbrook , 2022-06-28 11:15:28

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